I recall the first electric car race I ever went to. It was a companion class at a Long Beach Grand Prix many years ago. I was pretty excited to see it. I was seated in the stands at the entry of turn one. I watched the starter drop the green flag on the Jumbotron, and then the cars came and went. That was it. No noise, mediocre speeds and then they came around again, no noise, no merge collectors, and mediocre speeds. I couldn’t tell you whether or not the cars made another lap because I had already lost interest and had stopped paying attention. “What a dumb race,” I remember saying.
But What Do I Really Think:
That has pretty much been my attitude towards electric cars ever since – boring. Tesla came out with the Tesla roadster and at the time I was a Tubi dealer selling sound to Ferrari owners and just could not imagine an electric powered sports car. Maybe something for poseurs, but not real car guys.
My next experience with electric cars came when I had a chance to drive a Nissan Leaf. I was actually pretty impressed. The car drove like most small econo-boxes with pretty reasonable acceleration. With a 100+ mile range and with electricity prices in Tennessee less than 10 cents per kilowatt hour, I thought this was a very reasonable alternative, definitely an option for me. Then gas prices plummeted and I kept my trusty Yukon XL.
It Gets Worse, Or Does It:
Then just a few weeks later, GM announced the eCOPO, an electric powered racecar that was imagined to compete with the hot factory super stock drag race vehicles. Ho-hum I thought. While walking around the Pomona pits during the World Finals in 2017, we bumped into our friend Jeff Lane of the winning drag race duo, Hancock and Lane. Turns out, he was the builder of the eCOPO! Jeff Lane, Super Stock champion was playing around with these noiseless race cars. Could it be?
Jeff then told us the story of the eCOPO and how he got involved. There was excitement in his voice, a gleam in his eye displaying passion for this new technology. He described how the concept grew from a high school auto shop teacher’s (did not know they still existed) desire to build an electric car. Jeff described the young people involved with the project and how excited they were. Computer geeks with a passion for cars who – in hot rodder fashion – built electrified Corvettes using parts from wrecked Teslas. Jeff was also impressed how young people at the various shows flocked to the cars and showed enthusiasm for the car. This was surprising. If you have ever walked around the pits at an NHRA event, you know how prevalent grey hair and beards are. I started to think, maybe there is something to this.
The Turn Around:
Then, this past weekend, I had a chance to spend 24 hours with a Tesla X. A 6500 pound SUV with an electric motor – actually four motors. I lucked out and got the top-of-the-line P100D with 762 horsepower and 791 lb-ft of torque, and a 100kWh battery powering all four wheels. The car features a touchscreen mounted in the center console that rivals the size of my desktop monitor. With the touch of a button the doors open. And when the Falcon Wing doors open, you’re immersed in a gorgeous white interior with black trim – very Kardashian-chic my daughter informed me. I climbed into the drivers’ seat and after a few minutes of instruction, I tapped the gearshift into drive, and without any noise whatsoever, pulled away.
That's Plain Ludicrous:
Of course, the first thing I did after getting out of site of the dealer was pull up the screen that allowed me to choose the infamous “Ludicrous” acceleration mode. I creeped up to the next red light then as the light turned green, I smashed my foot into the accelerator pedal. The car took off and I was slammed into the seat back as the 6,500 pound beast shot to 60 in less than 3 seconds.
WOW just WOW.
The quarter mile comes up in just 11.3 seconds. Yes, you read that right – 11.3 seconds, roughly the et of a B/stock eliminator run (around 11.2 seconds). The last time I experienced this kind of acceleration was in a twin turbo charged Gallardo. But this, this Tesla, was a soccer mom’s grocery getter. Amazing.
The Bottom Line:
I am impressed. Electric powered cars have come amazingly far, and they will continue to advance as more people and companies become involved. And now that drag racers have gotten a taste of this technology, great things will happen.
Where Does That Leave Me:
So now, the big question is, where does this leave an exhaust technology company? The electronics still needs to be cooled, so hot gases still need to be exhausted, and as they get hot rodded, more hot gases. Maybe our merge collector technology can enhance the process. They should still need tubing. So maybe the sky isn't falling after all!
What do you think about electric race cars?